A satisfying graphic design career is one where you are doing work that allows you to have fun and grow — and pays your bills, allows you to save, and gives you time left over to have a life. A freelancer is someone who enjoys graphic design and is also happy learning to do everything it takes to run their business successfully.
Some of a solo freelancer’s is responsibilities include: setting up the business (including registration and insurance), marketing, networking, estimating and writing contracts, tracking their time and mileage, scheduling, meeting with clients, designing the work, competently producing the work to the specifications of the printer, working with vendors, billing and collecting, maintaining and troubleshooting computers and software, learning new skills, bookkeeping, managing their stress when there’s no money coming in, and taking vacations when there is.
Such is the price of independence. A goal of your freelancing could be to become profitable enough that you can hire other people to take on some of these jobs.
A large part of freelancing does not involve designing.
When you first get out of school, it should be a time of exponential growth as you learn new things. When you first start out, would you prefer that the growth be in your ability to run a business, or your design abilities?
Consider that it may be better to spend time working with other designers in a design studio, designers who are better and more experienced than you. Working in a good studio can push you to be a better designer; you’ll also be designing all the time, on multiple projects, and not be distracted by marketing, billing, and bookkeeping. Surrounded by work that’s better than yours, you’ll improve faster and get used to asking the questions necessary to push yourself harder.
When working in a studio, improving your design abilities is part of the job description. As a freelancer, your motivation to improve is going to have to come from you.